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July 23, 2014 at 6:02 AM

School supply drive update: Workplace giving helps students in need

In Wednesday’s opinion section, the editorial board shined a spotlight on Hopelink, one of the three beneficiaries of The Seattle Times’ annual school supply drive.

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics, which is hosting a school supply drive to benefit Hopelink's Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond, which is hosting a drive to benefit Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

This year, Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign is trying to collect enough tools of learning to assist at least 2,000 students. One way readers can help is to simply make a donation through the Times’ Fund for the Needy. A sturdy backpack filled with the basics costs about $40.

Another way to assist Hopelink, which reaches families through its service centers in north and east King County, is by hosting a workplace or community supply drive. The organization is requesting donations be dropped off at any of its service centers by Aug. 1 so that volunteers have a few weeks to sort and stuff backpacks before the new school year begins.

On Tuesday, Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond showed me how they are working with Hopelink to collect back-to-school supplies. Treatment Coordinator Roshelle VanDorien says her office chose to participate for the first time this year because “it was an easy way for us to get involved in something super-local. We want the kids to succeed and to get through school without being the odd kid out.”

(Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

(Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

To do this, the office has set up a jar for cash donations, put up posters throughout the clinic, and hung up backpacks in the waiting room. Staffers also come up with an ingenious idea to engage young patients using a rewards passport system. Kids can earn an extra stamp for every five items or $5 they donate to the supply drive. The incentive? Once the passports are full, they get a chance to pick from an assortment of prizes that would make any kid’s eyes open wide.

“We had one kid who needed two stamps, so his mom gave $10 to the supply drive,” VanDorien said.

Lake Hills Orthodontics Treatment Coordinator Roshelle VanDorien explains how the rewards passport works to benefit the clinic's school supply drive for Hopelink. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Lake Hills Orthodontics Treatment Coordinator Roshelle VanDorien explains how the rewards passport works to benefit the clinic’s school supply drive for Hopelink. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

The suburbs of King County are filled with affluent workers in the high-tech industry, but they also remain a destination for struggling families who can no longer afford to remain in Seattle’s urban core.

“They’re here and just because we’re functioning doesn’t mean they’re not having a hard time,” VanDorien reminds us.

Well said. Let’s encourage more community members to join the cause.

Readers are invited to send a donation to The Seattle Times School Supply Drive, P.O. Box C-11025, Seattle, WA 98111. To donate online, visit seati.ms/edschoolsupplies. Email ffn@seattletimes.com for debit and credit card questions.

Comments | Topics: eastside, poverty, school supply drive

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